Strictly champion and actress Rose Ayling-Ellis has said she is a “big believer of getting yourself out of your comfort zone, because that’s where you grow”.
The EastEnders star, 27, is among the 33-strong cohort listed for Bafta Breakthrough initiative this year, previously known as Breakthrough Brits, which has been running in the UK since 2013 and helps support emerging stars in film, TV and video games.
More than 200 newcomers have participated in the Netflix-supported initiative, including It’s A Sin star Lydia West, Bukky Bakray, Letitia Wright, Florence Pugh and Tom Holland, and the global programme also encompasses the US and India.
Say hello to this year's extraordinary #BAFTABreakthrough talent! A huge congratulations to the 2022 cohort and massive thanks to @Netflix for their support. Get to know the Breakthroughs below 👇https://t.co/AqRnDv5t6q pic.twitter.com/qPzl9YGFU0
— BAFTA (@BAFTA) November 10, 2022
Ayling-Ellis first found fame starring as Frankie Lewis in BBC soap EastEnders and went on to become the first deaf contestant to take part in and win Strictly Come Dancing last year.
She said: “I am a big believer of getting yourself out of your comfort zone, because that’s where you grow. And I feel quite ambitious, too.
“But the thing is, I never planned for the impact that I made, I never planned it. I just went on to a dancing show and just danced, and I just went on EastEnders and got offered the acting job to be a regular.
“But I wanted to get it right. I don’t want to make people feel sorry for me, I want to show everyone I am capable of doing all of these things because I got given the opportunity.”
The Bafta Breakthrough participants, 21 in the UK and 12 in the US, were selected by a global jury which included names like actress Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Ade Rawcliffe, Ruth Madeley and other international creative industry experts.
Speaking about the impact EastEnders has had on her life, Ayling-Ellis said: “If it wasn’t for EastEnders, I would never have gotten Strictly, and EastEnders were the ones that were brave enough to hire a deaf, regular actor for the first time ever, and just creating a storyline that isn’t about deaf issues…
“I didn’t come on for one week to do a special episode for Deaf Awareness Week and then leave.
“I was in it regularly…and I think that’s what changed things – that’s what made people think, ‘Oh yeah, why not, why can’t we see people like this regularly on TV?’”
Bafta’s chief executive Jane Millichip said: “Congratulations to this year’s Bafta Breakthrough participants in both the UK and US.
“It’s fantastic to see such breadth and depth of talent represented across film, games and television.
“It is a core tenet of Bafta to provide, not only starter programmes, but also the networks and mentoring to accelerate the careers of those who are already on their creative journey, and the skill and commitment already demonstrated by this year’s cohort is hugely impressive.
“We’re incredibly proud of the immense contribution Breakthrough participants bring to the screen industries and what they go on to achieve.
“This is core to Bafta’s purpose and of course, none of this is possible without our industry partners, and we are hugely grateful to Netflix for their continued support of Bafta Breakthrough.”
Other talent from the UK listed for the Bafta Breakthrough are This Is Going To Hurt actress Ambika Mod, Sex Education director Runyararo Mapfumo, cinematographer Diana Olifirova and more.